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Testimony of Simon Johnson, the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)

Testimony of Simon Johnson, the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)


Simon Johnson
Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

[ipaper docId=50029822 access_key=key-22shnf6h9cm9qnlfibe7 height=600 width=600 /]

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Congressional Oversight Panel to Hold Final Hearing on the TARP’s Impact on Financial Stability

Congressional Oversight Panel to Hold Final Hearing on the TARP’s Impact on Financial Stability


***UPDATED: ADDS ADDITIONAL WITNESS INFORMATION***

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2011

Thomas Seay

Thomas_Seay@cop.senate.gov
202-224-9979

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, March 4 at 10:00 a.m., the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will convene in 538 Dirksen Senate Office Building to hold its final hearing.  The Panel will hear expert testimony from the agencies who helped to coordinate the government’s unprecedented response to the 2008 financial crisis, as well as from several of the nation’s leading economists, who will offer their assessments of the TARP’s impact on financial stability and the U.S. economy.

By statute, the Congressional Oversight Panel will dissolve on April 3, 2011.  The Panel will issue a final report on the TARP in mid-March.

WHO: Members of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel

Witnesses

Panel One:

Timothy Massad, Acting Assistant Secretary for Office of Financial Stability, U.S. Department of Treasury

Panel Two:

Jason Cave, Deputy Director for Complex Financial Institutions Monitoring, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Patrick Lawler, Chief Economist and Head of the Office of Policy Analysis and Research, Federal Housing Finance Agency

William R. Nelson (ADDED), Deputy Director, Division of Monetary Affairs, Federal Reserve System

Panel Three:

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate and University Professor, Columbia Business School, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Department of Economics) and the School of International and Public Affairs

Allan H. Meltzer, Allan H. Meltzer University Professor of Political Economy at Carnegie Mellon University

Simon H. Johnson, Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Luigi Zingales, Robert C. McCormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance and the David G. Booth Faculty Fellow, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

WHAT: Final Hearing on the TARP’s Impact on Financial Stability

WHEN: Friday, March 4, 2011; 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Room 538, Dirksen Senate Office Building

The hearing is open to press and public and will be webcast on the Panel’s website at cop.senate.gov. Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service, including closed captioning service for webcast hearings, should contact the Panel’s staff at 202-224-9925 at least two business days in advance of the hearing date.

The Congressional Oversight Panel was created to oversee the expenditure of the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds authorized by Congress in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and to provide recommendations on regulatory reform. The Panel members are former Senator Ted Kaufman; J. Mark McWatters; Richard H. Neiman, Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York; Damon Silvers, Policy Director and Special Counsel for the AFL-CIO; and Kenneth Troske, William B. Sturgill Professor of Economics at the University of Kentucky.

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Congressional Oversight Panel: HAMP FAILED YOU, SERVICERS CONFLICTS

Congressional Oversight Panel: HAMP FAILED YOU, SERVICERS CONFLICTS


Congressional Oversight Panel Reviews Treasury’s Foreclosure Prevention Programs
HAMP On Track to Prevent Far Fewer Foreclosures Than Expected, but Treasury Can Still Take Steps to Help More Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2010

Thomas Seay
Thomas_Seay@cop.senate.gov
202-224-9979

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Congressional Oversight Panel today released its December oversight report, “A Review of Treasury’s Foreclosure Prevention Programs.” In the eight months since the Panel’s last report on the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), Treasury has made minor tweaks to the program, but the changes have not resolved the Panel’s core concerns. The Panel now estimates that, if current trends hold, HAMP will prevent only 700,000 foreclosures – far fewer than the three to four million foreclosures that Treasury initially aimed to stop, and vastly fewer than the eight to 13 million foreclosures expected by 2012.

While HAMP’s most dramatic shortcoming has been its poor results in preventing foreclosures, the program has had other significant flaws. For example, despite repeated urgings from the Panel, Treasury has failed to collect and analyze data that would explain HAMP’s shortcomings, and it does not even have a way to collect data for many of HAMP’s add-on programs. Further, Treasury has refused to specify meaningful goals by which to measure HAMP’s progress, while the program’s sole initial goal – to prevent three to four million foreclosures – has been repeatedly redefined and watered down.

Treasury has failed to hold loan servicers accountable when they have repeatedly lost borrower paperwork or refused to perform loan modifications. Treasury has essentially outsourced the responsibility for overseeing servicers to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but Freddie Mac in particular has hesitated to enforce some of its contractual rights related to the foreclosure process, arguing that doing so “may negatively impact our relationships with these seller/servicers, some of which are among our largest sources of mortgage loans.” Treasury bears the ultimate responsibility for preventing such conflicts of interest, and it should ensure that loan servicers are penalized when they fail to complete loan modifications appropriately.

It is too late for Treasury to revamp its foreclosure prevention strategy, but Treasury can still take steps to wring every possible benefit from its programs. Treasury should enable borrowers to apply for loan modifications more easily – for example, by allowing online applications. Treasury should also carefully monitor and, where appropriate, intervene in cases in which borrowers are falling behind on their HAMP-modified mortgages. Preventing redefaults is an extremely powerful way of magnifying HAMP’s impact, as each redefault prevented translates directly into a borrower keeping his home.

Treasury should acknowledge that HAMP will not reach the expected number of homeowners and should provide a meaningful framework for evaluating the program in the future. Treasury continues to state that HAMP will expend $30 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program funding, yet the Panel’s estimate based on Congressional Budget Office figures is that HAMP will likely spend only around $4 billion. Had Treasury acknowledged this reality before its crisis authority expired, it could have reallocated the money to a more effective program. Now, that option is gone. Absent a dramatic and unexpected increase in HAMP enrollment, many billions of dollars set aside for foreclosure mitigation may well be left unused. As a result, an untold number of borrowers may go without help – all because Treasury failed to acknowledge HAMP’s shortcomings in time.

The full report is available at cop.senate.gov.

The Congressional Oversight Panel was created to oversee the expenditure of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds authorized by Congress in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) and to provide recommendations on regulatory reform. The Panel members are former Senator Ted Kaufman; J. Mark McWatters; Richard H. Neiman, Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York; Damon Silvers, Policy Director and Special Counsel for the AFL-CIO; and Kenneth Troske, William B. Sturgill Professor of Economics at the University of Kentucky.

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